Ya boi Ivan is back, and this time he’s talking indie comics, wouldn’t you know it? Here he is talking to Terrence Ali X, author of Yasuke: the Black Samurai.
Ivan Grabar: Can you tell us what Yasuke is about and a few details about main characters?
Terrence Ali X: Essentially Yasuke is the true account of an African Samurai who served under the Japanese hegemony Oda Nobunaga in the late 1500s. The story in my comic series actually picks up about a decade after Nobunaga is killed and Yasuke disappears. I wanted to base the series around the history but still give myself free range to take it where I want to in respect of that same history. The series kicks off introducing Yasuke as a seemingly aimless, wandering sword for hire. He accepts a job in a small village where he meets a fierce female spy named Oluwaseyi. 'Olu' is a member of a secret group of spies who depoy around the world to destabilize major criminal organizations. Without spoiling anything further, they become intertwined and the series builds from there.
IG: As you know there are many comics on the market. Could you tell us what separates your books from others i.e. why should readers buy your comics?
TAX: The simple answer is this is uniquely my vision. I don’t have or want any outside writers or artists. It's just me enjoying myself and putting it out. I also really don’t follow the typical comic book rules, or trends...Whatever they may be this week. I admit I don't follow the industry happenings or market almost at all. I peek every blue moon so I'm not completely in the dark, but my main focus is just drawing dope stories and getting them to the people.
IG: Samurai have been extremely popular for a very long time. Can you tell our readers why you think that is case?
TAX: I personally think Akira Kurosawa has a lot to do with that. I mean, the popularity of Samurai stretches back as far as the japanese warrior class has existed, But I think Kurosawa films are a very big reason we still love Samurai and Samurai lore in modern times. Of course there's more that deserve a great deal of credit, but I absolutely have to mention Mr. Kurosawa.
IG: What started your interest in life of Yasuke?
TAX: I've always had an interest in Black History. Particularly the historical figures and accounts that are less well known. I started doing serious research on Yasuke in particular about six years ago after painting a commissioned portrait of my uncle as a samurai. I wanted to know if there was any historical validity to a real black samurai at any time in history. During that time I learned of the extraordinary Yasuke.
IG: Do you have any books, shows, comics or games that influenced your work?
TAX: Absolutely. Everything from Message To The Blackman, Lone Wolf and Cub, Yojimbo, Tenchu Stealth Assassins, Rurouni Kenshin, Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks, The Book of Five Rings, the list goes on.
IG: What is your method of writing – are you a discovery writer or you prefer to make detailed plot and why?
TAX: I'm definitely more of a discovery writer. I play out the plot in my head like a tv series and I build each episode as I go along. It would be hard for me to stay excited if I had the whole thing figured out. When I first started writing Yasuke six or so years ago, there was barely a paragraph about his life written anywhere. So I knew it would benefit me to leave the plot open and grow it with any new information I came across. As I learned more, I wrote more. It's fun that way. It's almost like you’re reading your own work not knowing what happens next, until you're in the shower playing out the end of an issue in your mind.
IG: Can you tell our readers something about yourself?
TAX: I also love skateboarding. Got back into it this year after a ten year hiatus at 32 years old. If I'm not drawing or making music, you can probably catch me in the streets or at the local skatepark.
IG: Where can our reader find your work and where can contact you?
TAX: Yasuke: The Black Samurai is available at lostfoundapparel.com along with Yasuke merch, clothing and a bunch of other cool stuff. You can find me on Instagram @Terrence_X_ or email me directly at email@example.com .
About the author: